USA Today's 100 Names to Know

The list (link) contains several Buccos.  Keep in mind that these are not top prospects but players that could contribute at the major league level this year.

There are 5 Pirates among the top 100:

7. Pedro Alvarez

Despite only one year of minor league experience, he likely will become the Pirates' third baseman in 2010. Months after being drafted second overall out of Vanderbilt, Alvarez shook off contentious contract negotiations to hit .288 with 27 homers and 95 RBI, dividing time between high-A and Class AA. Alvarez, 23, made a positive impression last spring training and continues to work hard on defense after committing 25 errors in 109 games in his first pro season.

Though it was more like "a year" than "months" after being drafted, he did make an impressive debut, particularly after his promotion to Altoona, one that many people questioned after he struggled early.  He's the second ranked position player on the list, only behind Alcides Escobar.  The only thing that could stop him from getting to PNC Park this summer is an injury or himself.


23. Jeff Clement

Acquired in a seven-player deal with the Mariners in August, Clement should have a great chance to win the first base job. Clement's preference is to be behind the plate, but because he was hampered last season by injuries to his side and knee, the Pirates want to focus on keeping him healthy. Garrett Jones is his main competition at first base, but could land in the outfield, too. Though his power is average, Clement has hit well in the minors. Now it's just a matter of whether the 26-year-old can transfer that solid stroke to the major-league level.

Clement's in good company on this list, slotting in right behind Jason Heward and Drew Stubbs, though he's got an easier path than Stubbs with nobody really blocking him.  Unless Clement totally bombs or gets hurt in spring training, GJones will end up in RF.


82. Brad Lincoln

The 2006 first-round pick is poised to make his major league debut after several years of injury and ineffectiveness. Lincoln, 24, had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2007 and didn't return to full speed until last year, when he pitched at Class AA and AAA as well as in the All-Star Futures Game and for Team USA in the World Cup. He could earn a spot with the Pirates in spring training but is more likely to get called up during the season.

Lincoln is pretty far down the list but since he's unlikely to start the year in the rotation and has yet to show much in AAA, I suppose I can see that.


84. Dan McCutchen

Not to be confused with his teammate, second-year outfielder Andrew McCutchen, this control pitcher has averaged fewer than two walks per nine innings in compiling a 40-22 minor league record. McCutchen, 27, blossomed in 2009. He went 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA in Class AAA, meriting his promotion to Pittsburgh.

The other McCutchen shows up as the bottom bread in a Brad Lincoln-Jhoulys Chacin-Dan McCutchen sandwich in the mid eighties.  He's got a good shot at the #5 spot in the rotation right out of the gate.  I think he'll beat out Hart for that spot but if not I'd bet he'll end up in the Indy rotation rather than as the long man in the bullpen.

86. Jose Tabata

The 21-year-old Venezuelan came to the Pirates from the Yankees as part of the Xavier Nady trade in 2008 and has played well despite being among the youngest players at every stop. He followed up a strong 2009 season by hitting .392 in the Arizona Fall League and is now pressing the Pirates to give him a chance in Pittsburgh.

Tabata comes in at the Hines Ward spot and may get his chance later in the season.  It could be close between him and Van Every to be the first corner OF call up.  I know who I'm rooting for in that one, but only if he deserves it.

For anyone playing the Huntington vs. Littlefield game, that's NH 4, DL 1.  With DL's last draft being three years ago, this is the time where his players from that and the previous draft should have started to reach Pittsburgh.

Just to give some perspective on these rankings, last year the only two Pirates on the list went in this order:

21. Steve Pearce, OF/1B, Pirates

22. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates

...and we all know how that worked out.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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